As President Donald Trump finds himself further mired in political scandal, speculation is mounting about the political future of his vice president. Is America ready for President Mike Pence, at some point?
Pence on Wednesday launched a political fundraising arm he’s calling his “Great America Committee.” That it was the first time a sitting vice president set up such a committee, as NBC News reported, stoked chatter about his motives and speculation about Pence 2020, which was quickly dismissed.
Pence has not commented on the political action committee, or PAC, and people are already swatting down speculation of a Pence presidential run in 2020 because Trump would be seeking a second term then. Pence could, of course, use any money he raised to further his and Republican interests in the 2018 midterm and 2020 presidential election. The money could be used to cover Pence’s travel costs nationwide to campaign on behalf of GOP political candidates.
“Don’t read into 2020 as anything other than his running for re-election as vice president in 2020 and supporting other candidates,” an unnamed source told NBC News.
Pence has largely remained in the background of the political firestorms that surround President Trump, from an FBI investigation into suspected ties between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to the controversial firing of FBI director James Comey.
While Republicans are standing by Trump, Democrats and critics called for an independent investigation and even invoked the word “impeachment” this week in light of explosive allegations Comey made in a memo, first reported by The New York Times on Tuesday, that said Trump told him to “let .. go” of an investigation into Flynn.
Trump met news of the Wednesday appointment of a special counsel, former FBI director Robert S. Muller III, with a Thursday tweet about a “witch hunt” and strong words at a subsequent news conference about how he has not colluded with Russia, how his top priority is the United States of America and how he never suggested in any way that Comey should end his investigation.
The mounting scandal, and now the existence of Pence’s PAC, has energized chatter about his potential role in replacing the president or becoming president some day.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, on Thursday shrugged off that suggestion when asked about it at a press conference.
Other journalists have also speculated on a Pence presidency.
The Politico story contained these lines: “The pining for Pence is nothing new, however. From Capitol Hill to K Street, the notion that many Republicans prefer Pence to Trump in the Oval Office is perhaps the worst-kept secret in Washington.”
Pence setting up a PAC has also attracted other theories. Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsible Politics, told Bloomberg News that the move is so unusual that it raises curiosity.
“Launching a leadership PAC sometimes signals an intent to run for higher office, which in Pence’s case, has been a topic of public interest ever since he was first nominated,” Krumholz told Bloomberg.
Others, including former Bill Clinton White House staffer Claude Taylor, shared similar theories.
Trump’s supporters and some Republicans, including Ryan, have pushed back and dismissed those theories as an ill-founded narrative from liberals and mainstream media.
Talk of Pence to become president has been around for as long as Trump has been in office. If scandals escalate and Republican support for Trump softens, the speculation may gain steam. Or not.
What do regular Americans think of a Pence presidency? Chatter on Twitter show people have mixed feelings about the former Indiana governor who is seen as tempered and measured but too conservative for liberals.
While much remains to be seen about the future of the Trump administration, all eyes are now on Pence to see if or how he furthers his political ambitions.
Do you picture Pence becoming president of the United States?
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